Beginner’s Guide To Upland Hunting – Part 3: Scouting and Preparation


By August and September, we are only a couple months away from Upland Hunting season. By now, we established that you want to be an Upland Hunter and we have gone over some of the gear you might need (see Part 1 & Part 2). Hopefully, over the past few months, you began to stockpile ammo and maybe even purchased a new shotgun! You may have been antsy throughout summer, wondering what you could do during the anticipation before opening day.


Opening day will be here sooner than you think! Chasing birds through the timber and the hills until sundown sounds great and all, but certain things need to be done to make your hunt enjoyable and successful. Are you in shape physically? Have you dusted off the shotgun and taken it to the range? Do you have all the gear you need? What about your license? Do you even know where to hunt? Do you even know if birds will be there? ARE YOU READY???

Well, as always, I am here to help! Read along and I will cover some important steps and factors that should be done or considered before any season starts!


Most of us get into some type of hunting by having someone introducing you into it. I grew up deer hunting, but I was completely oblivious to upland hunting until much later in my life. Those of you that have any type of hunting background already know that scouting is an integral part of a successful hunt. Those of you who may be completely new to hunting have an opportunity of taking your first few steps into this lifestyle and getting into some coveys! You’re going to love this journey! I’m excited for you… I praise you, but would also like to warn you, especially if you have zero outdoors experience… get some first aid education, maybe even a outdoors navigation course at REI, or take someone with you the first time around! It took me a few years to learn how to navigate the wilderness on my own. Safety first!

Better yet… invite a salty ol’ veteran hunter on a scouting trip or ask if you can go along with them on their scouting own excursion. Most hunters (including myself) guard their hunting grounds with ferocity. I will tell you now… don’t ever ask a hunter where they specifically hunt and expect them to spill the beans. You haven’t earned it. You did not put in the time or the gas money. Many seasoned hunters would love to take you along with them scouting, however, you need to prove yourself and your passion. Show them that you are dedicated and not just trying to be a lazy hunter sniffing out spots to hunt. Get to know this veteran. Get up early with them. Plan where to scout. Learn the in’s and out’s. Help by buying gas or picking up lunch. You just might make a lifelong friend and hunting partner. You may even get to hunt those secret spots. So be sure to nice and courteous. These guys and gals are invaluable assets to your new upland hunting career.

Some upland hunting seminars area available to newbies. Check your local Bass Pro Shop or Cabela’s for dates. These often cost a minimal fee and provide you with tips and locations of where water guzzlers are.

Join your local Quail Forever Chapter (or other Upland bird related conservation groups) and get to know some of the people there. Again, these ol’ veterans can sniff out lazy hunters who are just trying to pry away secret hunting spots. Most will stay tight lipped until you can prove yourself. Become a full-fledged member. Volunteer. Head out to some of the habitat and guzzler restoration projects and soon you will find yourself rubbing elbows with some upland hunting masters! Quail intel is bound to come! You may even find some guys that are willing to let you hunt over their dogs (if you are into that kind of thing)….

For the rest of you loners (like me) … you are gonna have to earn it on your own. Sweat. Blood. Tears. Gas.

First thing is first. Check your states hunting regulations. Most of these tell you what kind of birds are around your area and where to find them. That’s a great first start. Using the internet or social media is also a great way to get pointed to the right direction if you do not have a mentor, but keep in mind that most people are not going to tell you exactly where to go. Aside from that… any leads or information you might find, just remember it’s on the internet, where literally millions of people congregate for information! Unless you are desperate and want to risk crowded hunting grounds, I would avoid hunting these areas. Use it for general information. There are plenty of wide open public land to hunt birds, especially out west!

Your local BLM office should have plenty of maps where you can hunt and you can also buy them online. Look for hunting/shooting maps at sporting goods stores. These will tell you specifically where you can hunt and shoot and other limitations. I also pick up a few National Forest road maps to find long lost truck trails that lead out further.

As you study these maps, you might also want to introduce some technology into your pre-scouting. I use a combination of Google Maps and Google Earth to get good ideas of the landscape. I can identify water sources and even habitat that birds might use.

Once you identify an area you may be interested in hunting, it’s time to go test your theory. It is vital you give yourself enough time to scout these areas well before the season begins. So, give yourself plenty of time. I personally believe that scouting too early in the year will not give you the results you always want when hunting season begins. Most birds have seasonal ranges, even in arid habitats. The prime time to scout is in August and September (even early October if your season starts a little later). Quail begin to start congregating into larger coveys by the end of summer. Finding birds closer to the season usually means you will find them again, right where you left them just in time for the season, especially if water and food is near.

People are going to think you are crazy… but bring out some binoculars or a spotting scope. The name of the game is to identify if birds are in the area. It helps to physically see them in their natural habitat and you may learn a thing or two about their behavior. Glassing for quail also serves another purpose. These are wild and suspicious birds. Tromping around and spooking the birds may make them super weary by the time you are ready to hunt or may outright scare them over to the next county. Keep your distance.

Understanding what quail or other upland birds need to survive is important to the scouting process. Begin to identify what your quarry considers ideal habitat and food. Do some research. What do they use for cover? Where do they roost? Etc. Where I hunt quail, I know they love juniper berries and other plants that produce seeds or green leaves. Ant mounds also make good fast food joints for quail. I look for areas below foothills that our sandy and offer dense scrub brush for predator evasion. Try to identify roost areas by scouting early before the sun comes up, but, again, be sure to not spook them too much. Like turkeys, quail and other upland birds have one or a few dedicated areas that they roost in. They will return there throughout the season, in most cases, unless they are too pressured.

Listen for quail calls (other upland birds have their own distinct calls, so research!). Their assembly call sounds like “Chi-caa! Chi-caa-goo! Chi-caa-goo”! It is one of the most iconic sounds of the west! Depending on your state, it may be illegal outside of hunting season, but if not, try a quail call to locate birds.

If you are able and have the time, try to scout the area you plan to hunt at least a couple of times before the season starts, just to be sure the birds are holding.

I personally do not like hunting around water sources (some regulations even make this practice illegal, or there are limitations on how long you can hunt an area that has a water source… check your regs). I like to identify where these areas are for my FYI, so I know what direction birds might travel to and from throughout the day when the season starts.

Another tool that tech-savvy hunters might want to consider is onX Maps. It utilizes many of the informational tools and maps mentioned above in one app for your phone. You can save maps for offline usage in the event you have no mobile signal. Mark waypoints and points of interest. If you already have a GPS, they also sell their map-cards at some sporting goods stores. Great tool! I still use a combination of physical maps just in case, however, because batteries do run out!

*Note: The further you walk away from the roads and the more miles you put in the better, says I. Stay within your comfort level, however, and be sure you are comfortable navigating the terrain or you have a buddy with you, especially you beginners. If you are willing to get furthest from the roads (where most lazy hunters will stay within a mile of) you are more likely to bump into more birds that some hunters are unwilling to hike and work for. “Low hanging fruit” is great, but there is also a lot more competition there. Work for it. You will be much more satisfied with your results!


Get into “Hunting Shape”

I like tacos. I like pizza. I like nachos. I also partake in a cheeseburger or two. I also do not work out as much as I probably should and those bush pants are feeling (filling) a little tight just right before the season. If you are like me, you need to start kicking things into high gear… like now!

Even those of you who are diligent enough to always be in tip-top shape (or perhaps you have not discovered GREAT tacos… come see me!) can still benefit from ramping up your work out regiments!

Now, I do not claim to be a nutritionist or even a health guru (clearly!), but as a former Junior High and High School Wrestler and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, I feel I might know a thing or two about getting ready for competition (and cutting a little weight)! First thing is first! Cut out the junk food! Eat cleaner. Try to stay away from pastas, bread, sugar, and yes…. even beer! That’s hard. I know. You are speaking to the choir! But, I promise you… after a hard-earned opening day, you can throw up your feet, we will crack open a beer together, slap each other on the back… and heck, I will even share one of my infamous camp style Papas y Chorizo burritos with you… it will be worth it! In the meantime… eat lots of lean meats like chicken and fish and fresh vegetables and nuts! Modify as necessary, but don’t give into the junk food!

A focus on cardio and stamina is a must. Do not underestimate these birds or the terrain. They will have you going up and down hills and running, especially if you are after western birds! Happens every year and every year I wished that I would have put in a little more work! Running is a good option. I hate running, so hiking or even walking briskly with a full backpack on or pushing a stroller with a 20-odd pound toddler in it will suffice. Whatever you do… push yourself! Get that heart-rate going! Sweat! Cardio at the minimum should be done at least twice a week… but push yourself to do more if you can. Use that gym membership if you have it and go to town on the treadmill or on that stationary bike!

I have never been big fan of weights. You may have a regiment of your own that incorporates them… GREAT! Go on with your bad self and pump some iron! Shoulder and arm strength fatigue may occur after a long day in the filed carrying an 9-pound shotgun and gear-filled vest. I personally focus on plank walk-outs and push-ups for my upper body and over-head presses with a light weight/high rep (kettlebells work great for this work out).

Leg work is often overlooked. If you want to avoid having trembling legs halfway up a hill, you would be wise to add some leg work outs to your upland hunting preparation. I keep it simple and do a good number of squats and lunges. This build a lot of those bending and kneeling muscles you might encounter on those hills! There are several versions of these exercises, so find the one that is best for you. YouTube is great source for finding some great workout ideas.

Ideally, you want to give yourself anywhere from 6-8 weeks for your body to accept the changes in your diet and activity and to see results!

Range Time

Well, here is a fun part of the preparation phase! Who doesn’t like to shoot? Now I am not talking about taking a bunch of watermelons to the range and shooting them to smithereens! I am talking about sporting clays or any other variation of clay shooting sports. Sporting clays, in general, mimics live bird shooting. I prefer this type of shooting… because it keeps you sharp and prepares you for some likely wild bird scenarios! You are exercising your senses and building muscle memory. The more you shoot, the better you will be at shooting the target you intend to shoot.

Not all of us have the time to head to the field every weekend. Not an issue. At minimum, have at least one refresher course to knock the dust off your bead sight and to get yourself used to the feel of your shotgun’s weight and recoil.

Practice mounting your shotgun often. I was given some advice that I feel has improved my overall shooting. Try to mount your shotgun and aim it in one smooth motion. You can even practice this at home, being sure that your shotgun is unloaded and pointing it in safe directions, of course!

Check Your Gear

In our last segment, we went over what kind of gear you will need for your upland hunt. By now you should have everything, or be close to having everything. Don’t wait to the last minute. It would be a great idea to check your gear and ensure it fits or works properly, if you have not done so already. Check for wear on your clothes and boots. Ensure items like your vest, jacket and pants are waterproofed, if necessary. Anything that needs to be replaced should happen soon!

Make sure you have enough of everything like batteries, ammo and socks. Those are very important items that get overlooked!

Buy a License

Did you forget something? Hopefully by now, you are a fully legal hunter and already took your hunter safety course. If not, what the heck are you waiting for???

Once that is done, go out and buy your hunting license! Walmart, Bass Pro, Big 5 all are major license agents. Make sure that you purchase any necessary upland game stamps. Here in California, it is an additional cost.

Now that you have your license, stick it in your wallet and do not remove it until the season ends!

Planning Your Hunt

At this point, you should start planning the specifics of your hunt. You did some scouting and found some birds or at least some signs that birds are in the area. Your gear is tip-top and now you have your license. You are getting into hunting shape and you are also practicing at the range.

If you are hunting with anyone, be sure to be on the same page about times and dates. Nothing is more frustrating than waiting around for someone to show up at your meeting spot on opening day and everyone else is already out hunting. Verify and re-verify! Make them commit. Be clear about expectations.

Be 100% sure what areas you will hunt. Give yourself an alternative location just in case the first one is a bust, but I always urge people to at least hunt their area a few times in the day before calling it quits. Be familiar with the areas as much as you can. Stick to your plan. Last minute and rash decisions lead to frustration.

If you are camping out and staying out a few days, ensure that you are prepared to have enough food and water and appropriate clothing and shelter (sleeping in your vehicle or tent, etc). Know what days you plan to be out and let your work and family members know ahead of time.

I always leave a note with my wife that provides info about where I am hunting, for how long and when to consider me overdue. I also add information for the nearest ranger station and law enforcement, just in case. It is a good idea that you do the same. As you research and scout, many of the maps have this information or you can find it online. Provide basic info about where you will be hunting and any alternative sights you may go to. Do not deviate from your plan unless you can let someone know.

Make a List… Check it Twice!

Lastly, it is a good idea to make a list of all your equipment and gear. This list should be used to check off equipment as you load it up or stage it on or before opening day. It will save you a hassle! A cautionary tale: This past Spring, I headed out on a turkey hunt and loaded all my gear. List? “I don’t need no stinking list”! 3 hours away from my home and civilization, setting up camp, is when I realized that I forgot my sleeping bag and blankets. It was an unusually cold Spring day… the night, even colder! I spent the night in 38-degree weather freezing my butt off. Yep. I won’t ever think I am above having a check list, again. Ever.

As you begin to compile your list, you may find that you forgot something crucial, so these lists work great in that way too!


Are you excited? We are almost there! Just a few more weeks away! If there are any questions you might have on topics regarding preparing for your hunt that I may have missed, please feel free to leave me a comment or shoot us an e-mail at, I love helping out people who are new to the Art of Upland Hunting!


God Bless and Happy Hunting!



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Beginner’s Guide To Upland Hunting – Part 2: Essential Gear


In my last blog entry, Beginner’s Guide To Upland Hunting – Part 1, we learned a little about what upland hunting was and how one might even explore it further. Some of you may have decided that you are all in and are ready to get started for the next season! I applaud you, but also want to be clear that there is a bit of preparation that is involved to have a successful upland hunting experience. You want to enjoy yourself. Your enjoyment is largely dependent on preparation and ensuring you have the right equipment to perform. Without preparation and good equipment in the field, you risk sabotaging a perfectly wonderful experience. Why would you ever want to try anything again that you a bad time doing? Don’t risk that! Go in prepared! Get the right gear!

In this entry of the Beginner’s Guide To Upland Hunting, we will focus on gear. Gear is an essential part of upland hunting. When you think of an upland hunter, you probably think of a plaid-clad, blaze orange wearing, double gun toting, pipe smoker with earth toned briar pants. That is a very classic picture, isn’t it? Although I tend to believe that most upland hunters are practical folk, some, including myself, have gone off the deep end when it comes to gear. You don’t have to necessarily look a certain way and you don’t need every little gadget. I have been guilty of going “gear-crazy” in the past and there were some costly mistakes! It is easy to walk into your local Bass Pro Shop and walk out spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars on non-essential gear or looking like an Orvis catalog model. We will stick to functional gear and keep it simple! You’ll thank me later!

The Shotgun

The shotgun is the most iconic and probably the most important piece of your gear. Without it, you are just a bird watcher! Many of you probably have a romantic picture of yourself setting off at dawn through the briars, toting a classical double-gun. I did too! That stubborn vision I had of myself and lack of knowledge led me to make a very bad shotgun purchase when I started upland hunting, however. The more research you do before purchasing a shotgun, the better.

Choosing a gun for upland hunting comes down to preference (and your budget). Keep in mind a shotgun is in an investment. Like all investments, careful planning needs to occur to ensure the best return (ROI). A whole book could be written about the various platforms of shotguns, gauges and chokes (I’ll reserve that for another day). Do you need to spend a lot of money? No. Should you spend a lot of money? Not necessarily. Like cars, shotguns can have economically-minded and practical uses, or have many expensive bells and whistles, and even represent status. If you can afford the nice $10,000 heavily engraved double or Olympic grade Semi-Auto, more power to you! A budget shotgun can put away as many birds as an expensive shotgun. At the end, it is a tool. The wielder ultimately makes the shots happen.

To the dismay of many and at the risk of being lynched, I am going to simplify things for those of you who are new to upland hunting. If you do not already have a shotgun, try to get something that has the capability of switching out the chokes. Stick to a 12 or 20 gauge (I can hear the mob grumbling), which are the most common gauges. This will ensure that ammo is plentiful and cheaper. 16, 28, and 410 are all great and fun gauges to shoot, however, there is a bit of an issue of finding ammo at times. Smaller gauges like the 410 also require quite a bit of mastery to shoot effectively as well. Women and smaller stature hunters may prefer a shorter and lighter 20 gauge.

The most common chokes are Full, Modified, Improved Cylinder, and Cylinder. If you can, stick with Modified and/or Improved Cylinder. These are ideal for most upland hunting scenarios.

In my opinion, a brand spanking new Remington 870 is one of the most reliable, versatile and economical shotguns out there. With an option to change out chokes, you can have an upland gun, a pass shooting gun for dove and waterfowl, long range turkey and coyote gun, and self-defense gun all rolled into one. The pump platform is super reliable and can be easily field stripped if needed. You cannot go wrong. Used 870’s can often be purchased for a couple hundred bucks.

When all is said in done, pick a gun that fits you. There are no rights or wrongs.


Regardless if you choose a 12 or 20 gauge, you will find that most vendors carry #7-1/2 shot size in abundance. In my opinion this is the bare minimum size you should use, especially if you are hunting wild birds with no dog to retrieve your downed birds. Having said that, my personal preference is #6 shot. I have used #6 shot for years after seeing that many birds I was shooting with #7-1/2 were still flying off and running a bit after being shot. To me, it appeared when I used #6 shot, I was getting less cripples/runners. I never have had a bird mangled with #6 shot. It is very effective and humane. That’s my $0.02.

As mentioned, you can pick up “sleeves” of shotgun shells at your local Wal-Mart for some great prices. $20 for 4 boxes of 25 rounds! People will tell you these bargain bundles of Remington, etc. are garbage, but I have never had jams or misfires with this ammo in any of my guns and they still put birds down just as same as the premium brands.

If you hunt often or shoot clays often (and miss as much as I do!) it is a good idea to begin stockpiling some ammo before the season starts. It may be worth your while to attend some gun shows. You can score some good deals on whole cases of ammo!


At minimum, you need one good quality and sharp knife. I usually carry a pocket knife and a multi-tool out in the field. I have a spare in the car. I always end up using them at some point, whether cleaning out birds or making small repairs, etc.

What to Wear

It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement when those pre-fall catalogs arrive from Orvis, Filson, Bass Pro and the like. I am guilty of flipping through the collection of catalogs I have in the restroom for hours, dog-earing pages. I usually end up not buying a lot of it.

When it comes to clothing for upland hunting, I like to stay practical and functional for the most part. Although I enjoy ogling at the $100 Orvis outdoor shirts and $300 Filson Tin Pants, I have accumulated a lot of quality garments that have lasted me for years for a fraction at the price. Premium prices do not always equal quality. That’s not to say those durable Filson pants are not worth it, a good pair will last you years. But I would personally much rather use that money to buy more ammo or gas to go hunting. At risk of creating competition for myself and losing out on some fine clothing, a little tip I will share with you is to check out your local thrift stores for some of these items. If you do not mind lightly used items or pushing aside a few hipsters to get to a couple shirts and pants, you can score some quality upland hunting clothing! Aside from that, I urge you to stick with quality vendors like Orvis or Filson.

The Upland Vest:

The upland hunting vest is an essential piece of gear for upland hunting. You can make due without many of the specialized garments below, but the vest is a Godsend to us upland hunters. Firstly, most vests have some sort of blaze orange present on them (I urge you to try to stick with a vest that has this option). Even when (seemingly) hunting alone, the blaze orange will alert others of your presence. I have been out in the field and was sure I was the only hunter out there, only to bump into another hunter a few hours later. Better safe than sorry. Wear blaze orange. If not on your vest, at least your hat or shirt. Somewhere.

The upland vest also serves a practical use. It carries your birds and your ammo. Some have multiple options, with multiple pockets, etc. I have used the same Filson game-bag for years. It is minimalistic. Two pockets in the front where I can get to my ammo quickly and a roomy game-bag in the back (that’s where I store my water bottle too). Simple. That’s the way I like it, but there are some cool options out there if you like a ba-zillion pockets for your gear and such.


As far as shirts go, I am a big fan of light wool shirts. Wool has many benefits, will keep you warm in the cold and regulates to your body temperature when you heat up, wicking away sweat naturally. Wool shirts are perfect for the early days of the season, where the weather is brisk in the morning and the afternoons can be quite warm still. Long sleeves are a must, especially in the uplands, where birds live in habitats filled with pokey and prickly vegetation. If you ever reach for a bird that flew into a thorny bush, you will be thankful for long sleeves. Canvas or flannel shirts are great alternatives to wool, although they tend to feel heavier and do not breathe as well as wool. I use these shirts later in the season when it’s colder. There are many high-quality shirt manufacturers out there. Try out Orvis, Filson, Pendleton, & Woolrich. Watch for sales!

Layering shirts is a good idea. Again, during early season hunting, the mornings can be quite cool and get gradually hotter as the days drag on. Under my wool shirts, I usually wear a light shirt with wicking capability like Under Armour or similar brand. When rolling up sleeves is not enough, I can take my wool shirt off and toss it in the back of my vest. During the winter months, I will bundle up a bit more. As you are standing there freezing before your hunt starts on a winter morning, you may be tempted to wear a thick coat or jacket. Please keep in mind that once you start moving, you are going to warm up. Having a thick coat on after a hiking a few minutes will have you feeling like you skipped winter and jumped right into summer. Layer smartly. During the late season, I have worn thick canvas or flannel shirt over a light wool shirt/under shirt combo or thermal. Lately I have been favoring lighter shirts that allow me more movement in the shoulders with an ability to shed off layers as needed. Last season I wore my Pendleton wool shirt with a light “Heat Gear” Under Armour shirt that kept me toasty in the 29 to 40-degree weather. I only wore a jacket once and I ended up shedding it off within a few minutes of my hunt. Some of you folks back east experience colder weather, however, and might find it necessary to carry the extra bulk.


Pants that are suited for upland hunting need to be thick and durable. The uplands are filled with thorns, briars and cactus spines that are just itching to pierce through your drawers into your fleshy legs. There are specific “briar pants” that can be picked up at various merchants. These briar pants usually have extra material sewn on in strategic points on pant legs and keep many of the pokey-sharp things from getting through. Some guys I know wear chaps made of thick canvas and they seem to work out well. As you plow through miles of brush pursuing birds, the clothes you have on will begin to wear over the months and years. Canvas work pants like Dickie’s, Red Kap, and Carhartt have been making durable pants for working-class folk for generations, and they work well for upland hunting in my experience. During the late season, you might find it beneficial to wear thermal under pants.

I get asked a lot if I ever wear snake resistant chaps or pants. I don’t wear them. If you hunt in the wild, especially in the west, you are bound to see a rattlesnake or other venomous snake. It’s a given. My experience is that there is no substitute for awareness. However, the reality is there is a possibility that you could be struck by a venomous snake (however, very unlikely). It may be your preference to wear gear like snake resistant pants, but please continue to be aware of their presence and respectful of their space. We are hunting in their home after all.

Hats, Gloves, Glasses & Bandannas:

In the early part of the season I usually wear a lighter baseball cap style hat. During the fall, there are still many bright and sunny days and a hat will protect you from the elements and the sun. Later in the season, I might switch over to a wool wide-brim fedora/cowboy style hat with waterproofing which keeps m head warm and dry in case it rains/snows.

Gloves have become a happy addition to my gear over the years. After getting thorns or spines in my hands multiple times and hopping over barbed wire fences, I wised up and started wearing leather gloves in the field. Simple deer leather work gloves work great! You might decide not to wear gloves because of dexterity issues when handling your guns. In that case, you may want to reconsider and maybe cut out a hole for your trigger finger.

Shooting glasses protect your eyes. I am very guilty of not always wearing shooting glasses when I am out hunting and I should probably be a better example to you all. Particles from firing or ejecting shells have been known to hit shooters and hunters in the eye. Why risk it? Aside from that, wearing yellow tinted lenses has been known to enhance vision outdoors.

The bandana is an often overlooked and underutilized piece of fabric. The bandana has many uses such as emergency signaling, bandage, tourniquet, sling, hot-pot holder, handkerchief, napkin, emergency TP, etc. I always carry a couple. If they get dirty, they can be easily washed and are reusable.

Boots and Socks:

Without a proper pair boots on, you may as well go home. You may have to go miles to see a few birds and if you do not have the proper equipment on your feet, you are not going to go far. There are many boots out there that are designed specifically for upland hunting. You do not necessarily need a boot specific to upland hunting, however, they should be quality and durable, with good ankle support. Most of all, they should be comfortable! Take your time in choosing the right boot and when you finally do, be sure to break them well before the season starts. You do not want to wear a brand-new pair of boots out in the field for the first time. I would recommend a boot that is waterproof. Non-insulated if you are hunting out west. You guys back east will have to decide if it is worth getting insulated boots.

I had a pair of Bob Timberlake Uplander boots (discontinued) and they lasted me for years. I bought them in 2009 and just now switched over to Redwings/Irish Setter Wingshooter boots. Do yourself a favor… go to your local Redwings store. Try them on. You will walk out with them!

With proper boots, a proper pair of socks go hand-in-hand. Thin and loose socks in even the highest quality boot is a recipe for disaster. Friction is the main cause for foot blisters and they can ruin a perfect day of hunting. Wool hiking or hiking specific synthetic socks are life savers. Be sure to pack extra clean pairs, just in case.

Camping/Cooking Gear

You gotta eat! On the season opener, I will camp out a couple of days. On those weekends, I spend outdoors living like a hobo, I ensure that I have enough food for 3 meals a day and a couple of cold beers for dinner and guests that might drop in. A portable Coleman stove ensures that I have a hot meal at least a couple times out of the day (breakfast is usually a bar or some beef jerky). Simple foods like hot dogs or pre-made burritos can be easily heated up on a cast-iron pan. Be sure to bring more than enough water for yourself. Always carry water with you in the field along with a few snacks like energy bars.

A cooler keeps your food and any birds cool and from spoiling. Freeze a gallon of water a couple of days before heading out and stick it in your cooler. Keeps everything from getting wet and it can be defrosted for emergency water.

On single day hunts I will usually leave the stove at home in favor of a thermos full of hot soup. Returning to your truck for clam chowder and crackers after chasing birds for miles is heaven. A thermos is also useful if you are coffee drinker. A hot drink on a cold morning or night can be a great treat!

In order to keep myself as mobile as possible, I usually just camp out in my car (SUV). It is roomy enough for me to lay out a blanket and pillow and sleeping bag. You may choose to use a tent if you camp out. The days of over complicated tent set-ups are mostly gone. Today just lay out the tent and pull a loop in the center and voila!

Last, but not least, a folding chair and a good book are an awesome combo at the end of the day.


Early mornings and evenings can be dark. I like using a multi-function headlamp that allows me to be hands-free. This is especially useful when working around camp or while holding your shotgun in the field. Be sure to check your local laws when using a head lamp. There are some laws that prohibit the use of high intensity lights which that may disturb wildlife. My headlamp has a “map-light” function that emits a low-intensity red light and I use that to get around in the early morning. Having an extra flashlight and batteries is always a great idea as well.

Quick Chargers are a great tool in this day and age of technological wonders like the smart phone. We use our phones to record video and take pictures and many of us want to share our outdoor adventures. This kills a lot of battery life and could leave us without a phone to call anyone in the event of an emergency. I carry a quick charger that gives me about 3 full charges on my phone. While driving I am always sure to hook my phone up to the car-charger.

Navigating out in the wild can be tricky, especially if you are newer to hunting. Although I do not own one, a GPS is a great tool to help you better and safely navigate out in the wilderness and they also have cool functions like marking waypoints and points of interest, like where you spotted that covey or where you left your vehicle! Although, I advocate the use of a GPS, you should not solely rely on one. Having a good sense of your surroundings and having supplemental map will outlast the battery in your GPS.


Aside from not having a dog, the other reason I hear people tell me they don’t or think they cannot hunt is because of limitations of their vehicle. Sure, having a high-profile truck with 4×4 can be very useful when trying to get out to the uplands. Some areas will only be accessible by a good old 4×4 in low gear, unfortunately. However, there are multiple areas that any vehicle can reach right off of paved roads. You just may have to hike in a little further to get to the spots where the birds are.

After I got rid of my Nissan Titan, I got myself into a small Subaru Impreza. Although the vehicle had All-Wheel Drive, the clearance limited me sticking to areas in the lower elevation. So, I parked where I could legally and hunted just off of the main highways. I was surprised to find many spots where no hunters ventured and actually bumped large coveys of quail minutes from car. This was just off of Highway 10 in California heading toward Arizona. I also made similar hunting trips with my front-wheel drive Ford Focus (what a hunk of junk). When my daughter was born, I upgraded to a SUV with AWD. In my opinion, it is more convenient (I can actually sleep in it without waking up the next morning with a creak in my neck) and economical than my truck ever was.


With that, you should have a good idea of the type of gear you need. As you become a more seasoned hunter you will learn what works for you and what you can live without or even add a few things (I’d love to hear what works for you). In our next installment, we will cover preparing for upland hunting. You have (or you are getting the gear), so now what? See you in a couple of weeks!

God Bless and Happy Hunting! -J.R.



This blog expresses the opinion of the author. All information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

Beginner’s Guide To Upland Hunting – Part 1: So you want to be an Upland Hunter?


So, you thumbed through your buddy’s old copy of Double Gun Journal. You have seen the countless pictures on Instagram of hunters posing with their limits of quail, pheasant and grouse. You just saw the latest Project Upland video. Man… if only that could be you!

You close your eyes and imagine yourself walking through a field during late October. The sun is still clinging to summer and you feel the warmness of it on your back. Sweat beads roll down your neck, reminding you of how satisfying good-ol’ hard work feels. You breathe in air and catch a faint smell of metal and wood that has soaked up decades worth of sweat, blood, and Hoppe’s No. 9. That old shotgun in your hand feels good. Natural. It’s beautiful. You wonder if its previous owner admired and enjoyed it as much as you are right now…

The brush in front of you erupts with whirring wingbeats and nervous pips! A flash of feathers and beaks! Your heart is pounding from legitimate fright! Excitement and goosebumps take over now, threatening to leave you dropped jawed and your barrel stuck straight up in the air! Wings are still splashing against blue sky. You think, “How long I have I been standing here”? This is your chance! You shift the heft of your shotgun forward. Almost too hard, you slam the butt of the shotgun to your shoulder. Your bead swings to catch up to the last bird in the covey. Your finger meets the trigger…


Your eyes open. You got it bad my friend! So, are you ready to do this? Are you ready to become an Upland Hunter? Some of you might be wondering if you even can at this point in your life. You have no mentors or anyone to hunt with. No dog. You might even not have a shotgun. You may not know where to start or where to look for birds. What exactly is upland hunting anyway?

Upland hunting is a type of hunting that typically involves hunting various gallinaceous birds such as pheasant, quail, grouse, chukar, etc. Some may also consider the wild turkey and rabbit a part of the upland hunting circle, but we will stick with the former group of birds for this guide. It is typically not considered sporting to shoot these birds on the ground or perched. The goal is to flush these birds into flight and shoot them while they are airborne (wing shooting). It is fast. It is exciting. You get to see a lot of beautiful country in between the action.

So, still interested? GREAT!

I want to help you! I did the roadwork. You can benefit from my experience and avoid some of those pitfalls I stumbled into! Like you (possibly), I started my upland hunting career a bit later in life. Although, I had heavily hunted deer since I was a kid, my true experience hunting upland birds did not begin until I was well into my 20’s. In those early days, I had many questions about upland hunting, not enough answers and very few mentors. On that journey to become a full-fledged upland hunter, I did a lot of research, tried to learned a whole bunch and picked up some great tips and tricks. It was not easy. I made a few mistakes along the way, missed a lot of birds, wasted ammo, and bought unnecessary gear.

You do not need to buy everything out of the Orvis catalog. You don’t need a fancy gold-plated shotgun. You may be asking yourself right this minute, “Well, don’t I need a dog”? No. One of the silliest reasons people tell me why they don’t go upland hunting is because they do not have a dog. I hear hunting with a dog is great and all, but it is not necessary. Especially at this point. Glad that is out of the way! In time, you will need specific equipment and preparations to make your future endeavor into upland hunting enjoyable and (somewhat) successful, however. You don’t need anything fancy and you can do it on a budget if necessary.

First thing is first. If you are new to hunting altogether, please do this… Go sign up for hunter safety course and learn about general safety and etiquette for hunting and handling a firearm. If you have a shotgun already or if you can possibly borrow one, I urge future upland hunters to consider a pheasant preserve after they complete their hunter-safety course.

Pheasant preserves are a great introduction into upland hunting as they provide a somewhat controlled environment and allow new hunters to apply the etiquettes and safety requirements they just learned. Pheasant preserves allow a person or party to pay to have farm raised pheasant, chukar, quail, etc. released into designated fields where the shooter (you) will dispatch them. Let me be clear. Pheasant preserves are a great tool for those wanting to train their dogs (if you end up going that route later) and to keep hunters frosty and in “shooting shape” during the off season. Again, it also a great way to introduce new hunters, but it may not be your cup of tea. I personally cut my teeth on a pheasant preserve and gained valuable experience and knowledge from doing so. I personally have not been back to a preserve since that day, but many choose to continue to use them as a beneficial tool and that is okay too!

For all intents and purposes, this next series of blog entries are designed to help those people out who are interested to start their first few steps into upland hunting. In general, these practices can be applied to all forms of upland hunting/wing-shooting. In the next few weeks and months we will cover the following:

              Part 2: Gear

              Part 3: Scouting and Preparation

              Part 4: The Hunt and After

My goal is to pay it forward and help some of you get started in upland hunting. We are a community whose voice is getting louder thanks to social media and technology. Little by little our passion is being exposed to the outside world. Many are unfamiliar, but intrigued by upland hunting and we must all come together and share our knowledge and pass on our legacy to the next generation and I hope I can get some of you on your way to chasing some birds by October. Stay tuned and subscribe!

God Bless and Happy Hunting! -J.R.



This blog expresses the opinion of the author. All information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.